Monday, September 26, 2011

A Call for Help - Scheduling Groups

Good Morning Guided-Math Teachers!

Very often I receive questions on scheduling guided math under time constraints.  Last week I received an email with a unique time constraint.  I decided to post her email in order to get a few good ideas from others that might be in a similar situation...

I am a first grade teacher who has been doing guided math for a while now but I am really running into a problem and could use your advice.  I need more time!!!  Currently, my students come back from activity, grab a snack and we begin whole group math. (Really it is more of a settling back in time.)   I am only scheduling that for 10 minutes due to time constraints (1:05 - 1:15).  I then have from 1:15 to 2:00 for small group instruction.  However, the first students leave at 2:00 and I really need time to get them ready to go home.  The last students leave at 2:20.  I need to fit in 3 guided math groups and  leave myself a few minutes in between to put out first grade fires.  Do you have any ideas???  I have a lot of teachers coming to watch guided math in my class and I want to do it justice.  Any advice you can give me would be so appreciated!!!

Any suggestions on how this schedule can be worked out to the benefit of all groups/students?  Please leave a comment with any tips or solutions!

Thank You!


  1. I'd love to hear suggestions, too, as I sometimes have this same issue due to the set up of our Master Schedule.

  2. Is it possible to only do 2 groups a day? I know it's not ideal, but then you would be able to get enough time for 2 groups and not cut any short--If you have a low group, maybe make sure to see them every day or 4x a week and then your high group maybe only see 2-3 times a week. I do 2 rotations a day so that I can meet with 2 groups a day. I usually try to pick my lower kids for group most of the time, since they seem to be struggling with our daily lessons. Just a thought....

  3. Wow! That is a schedule dilemma. Perhaps, front loading some of the information during another part of the day may help (ie calendar). I agree with the previous teacher about rotating them through.

    Another idea is to get the kids who get go home first ready at lunchtime. Any important information would be sent home and the "other stuff" could be go home at a later time when you have more time to organize it.

  4. I am having a hard time with scheduling also...I am looking at some other smaller chunks throughout the day that I could adjust to do more of the whole group math lesson and then during my math block (when some kids leave to go to another class)..then we can do math smallgroup stations

  5. Can you leave their snacks ready on their desks for when they get back? Can you cut back 10 minutes on whole group? How much time to you meet with each small group?

  6. (I teach 3rd grade)

    I do two rotations a day with my two lowest groups. I try to meet with my higher groups once maybe twice a week. This way I can devote most of my time to my low babies. I have some volunteers that come in the room and help periodically (not every day and not always during reading). This seems to help. I use a modified scheduling page to make sure I know what I am teaching with each group.

    dlmirele had a good idea too - to leave their snacks on their desk for them to go ahead and eat them when they get back. Do you have a bell ringer that you could give them to work on during this time while they are eating? It'll make the transition coming back in a little bit easier. I LOVE my meaningful bell ringers for transition help.

  7. I know this was posted months ago- but I wasn’t sure if you ever found a solution. Here are some suggestions. 
    Can snack move to a different time like a reading time? Can the students pack up BEFORE you begin math? My snack time is actually when my students have their “math on my own” rotation. That means not all students eat at the same time.
    I focus on one skill a week. I teach a whole group lesson on Monday and give an exit slip to determine small groups for the week. I’m unsure if this is your style. If it isn’t read no further!!!!
    I only have small group math Tuesday- Thursday each week. My whole group before rotations is just a short review. If you really want to have 3 rotation in that time frame- I suggest overlapping one of the groups. Like overlapping the highest group with the on- level group or lowest with the on-level etc.
    1:05-1:10 Whole Group- Just a quick review.
    1:10-1:30 Group 1 below- level
    1:30-1:50 Group 2 on level (1/2 of the time the above level will join)
    1:40-2:00 Group 3 above level (they will start will participating in 10 minutes of the review type of lesson from group 2)